Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID)
Special Education and Vocational Rehabilitation Services

                                   Keeping Quality Teachers
The Art of Retaining General and Special Education Teachers

Building a Framework:
Induction and Mentoring Programs that Work

        Using the self-assessment for working conditions in Section Two, Appendix 2-1 can help school districts analyze ways to improve the quality and retention of their teachers. Carefully planning an induction program that includes a strong mentoring component should be considered by school districts as a way to promote higher teacher quality and retention rates.

 Why is induction and mentoring necessary?  

        Induction programs to support new teachers have the potential to make a profound difference in the ability of new teachers to understand and work in the new school community, in the quality of teacher performance, and in the retention of new teachers and experienced teachers. Teacher preparation typically begins in college, either at the undergraduate or masters level. However, it is increasingly possible for some teachers to enter the profession through alternative routes, such as careers in the private sector or the military. These teachers may have the additional challenge of acquiring skills in educational pedagogy, even if they have content expertise and/or life experiences. While school districts, institutions of higher education, and state departments of education typically share in the professional development of educators, induction and mentoring programs are increasingly important given the variability of teacher preparation.

What do new teachers need?

        For anyone, regardless of preparation, the first year of teaching is challenging and can all too easily become overwhelming. Moir has identified five phases of a first-year teacher’s attitude toward teaching. Beginning with anticipation, novices may experience a roller-coaster ride of survival, disillusionment, rejuvenation, reflection, and hopefully begin the cycle again with anticipation for the new school year. By addressing the needs of new teachers as professionals and members of a learning community, schools will have more new teachers who will end each school year looking forward to returning (Moir, 1999).

Awareness of these phases of a first-year teacher’s attitude is particularly important for special education teachers, and other teachers in critical shortage areas such as mathematics, science and world languages, because their departure from teaching puts an even greater strain on the system to replace them. In addition, the impact on students of the high percentage of special education teachers leaving their positions may be even more significant. If they are working with students in substantially separate classrooms, the safety, understanding of student profiles, and continuity of instruction they provide are essential for student achievement. If they are working with students who receive resource support, either in their classes or on a pull-out basis, they need to have strong working relationships with the classroom teachers of their students. Understanding teaching styles and ways Figure 1 - Graph showing the phases of a First Year Teacher's Attitude Toward Teaching



to work collaboratively with individual classroom teachers is imperative, and forming these relationships takes time. When special education teachers leave and new ones replace them, the process has to begin again. In addition, teachers new to the position need to understand the protocols followed in the school district, as well as the resources they have available to them, and this also takes time. Students who can ill afford any lapse in their instruction are perhaps the most vulnerable to changes in staff.

What can school districts offer new teachers?

Many school districts now offer their newly hired teachers induction programs that surpass the obligatory day-before-school orientation. The purposes of induction programs are to:

  • Improve teacher performance.
  • Increase retention of promising beginning teachers during the induction years.
  • Protect the investment of the district in the teacher.
  • Promote the personal and professional well-being of beginning teachers.
  • Satisfy mandated requirements.
  • Transmit the culture of the system.
  • Improve student performance and outcomes (Austin, Odell, Ishler, Kay, and Edefelt, 1989).

Some districts also require new teachers to take courses offered by district and/or university personnel as part of their induction during the first two or three years. Mentoring is the most familiar part of induction. In mentoring, more experienced teachers make a commitment to work with a new teacher for a specific period of time, usually at least one year, for the purposes of helping the new teachers acculturate into the district and reflect on and improve their practice. Mentors do this by learning to become cognitive coaches. Cognitive coaches promote reflection by asking questions. Sometimes they combine data that they have been asked to collect with questions to help new teachers think about what is working in their practice and what may need to be changed or enhanced. Coaches convey people from where they are to where they want to be (Garmston & Wellman, 1999). Coaching is the most important function mentors perform. Mentors need training and continued support to be effective with new teachers. Without coaching, mentors are good buddies, and while that is comforting to new teachers, it will not necessarily help them improve their practice.

 While it is most common for mentoring to be the mainstay of induction, there are contexts in which induction only includes an orientation program and possibly follow-up workshops on specific topics of interest to new teachers. This is less than optimal, for it is not this type of professional development that is likely to address the needs of new teachers in an ongoing and meaningful way throughout their first year(s). Induction is best when it is a multi-year process that welcomes new professionals and helps them, over time, reflect on and ever-improve their practice. 

What do mentors do to support new teachers? 

Four ways that mentors may support new teachers include the following:

 1.   Provide emotional support and encouragement.

        Beginning a career as a teacher, or even joining a new school community, grade level, or subject, is very difficult. Teachers are keenly aware of their responsibility to students and are often overwhelmed by the immensity of the job. For some new teachers, this may be the first time that they are living on their own and facing the challenges of being self-supporting. Learning how to budget their time so that they are able to “have a life” outside of school, is something that new teachers frequently mention. Support and encouragement from mentors and other colleagues are crucial for new teachers to be resilient and revitalized.

 2.   Provide information about the daily workings of the school and the cultural norms of the school community. 

New teachers have immediate needs to know such things as the attendance procedures and policies, where the supplies are kept, and the location of important places in the school. Perhaps even more important is knowing school culture. This is tricky because it is not written in any handbook or shared at any orientation meetings. Mentors need to guide new teachers, who won’t know if they broke a cultural norm until they inadvertently do so and get negative vibes from their colleagues. 

3.   Promote cultural proficiency regarding students and their families.

         Mentors can work with their colleagues to move toward being culturally proficient. Hopefully, individuals and institutions can move through their cultural incapacity and cultural blindness to reach a place of cultural competence. The ultimate goal is to achieve cultural proficiency through continuous attention and learning. We typically think of race and ethnicity when we think of culture. In addition, there are many other aspects of culture, including religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical ableness and class. The cultural competence continuum in the Appendix 4-1 is applicable for all aspects of culture.  

It is crucial that teachers are welcomed into the profession by experienced teachers and administrators who convey a willingness to assist and support the learning and practice of their novice colleagues, and who model a lifelong commitment to their own professional development and growth.

4.   Promote reflection and improved practice through cognitive coaching.  

     Mentors who learn how to be coaches will learn and perfect their ability to listen well and ask good questions, sometimes combined with data they collect during classroom observations. It is reflection by the new teachers that is fundamental to their growth. Mentors often are unfamiliar with different forms of data collection, and when they become proficient through the mentor training process, they may then collect information during classroom observations that new teachers would like, in ways that are comfortable and meaningful to the new teachers. Mentors sometimes balk at the idea of coaching, thinking that it sounds like what administrators do when they evaluate teachers. While good supervision and evaluation by administrators will likely include some of the things that mentors are trained to do as coaches, the big difference is that, typically, mentors do not make judgments and administrators do. These issues, among others, are why in-depth mentor training is so important (Villani, 2002). 

     The quality of the mentoring is, in the vast majority of programs, commensurate with the quality of mentor training. Induction programs and mentoring should be part of an overall plan for professional development for all teachers and educational staff in school districts. 

Mentoring is far more than a buddy system, and mentoring programs should be designed to go beyond helping new teachers feel comfortable.


Does mentoring help anyone in addition to new teachers?

Mentors often say they got more than they gave, and this is largely because of the ongoing professional development they receive as mentors, as well as the satisfaction of helping new colleagues. Mentors often think they are motivated by altruism, a desire to give back to the profession, to pass the torch and help newcomers. Mentors find that as they participate in extensive mentor training, they learn a great deal about their own practice as well as how to support a new colleague. As a result, experienced teachers who become mentors benefit greatly from mentoring programs. When this happens, other experienced teachers who are not mentors may start learning more about reflecting on and improving their practice. The value of mentoring for all teachers becomes evident. While induction is for new teachers, mentoring is valuable for everyone, whatever their level of knowledge of content and pedagogy.

     Teaching is not something that people are born to do, teaching is a profession that is based on research and pedagogy about learning. The more we discover about the functioning of the brain, the more clear it is that instruction can be carefully designed and offered to promote heightened learning. The JoHari Window of Intentionality exemplifies this concept about instruction.

Mentors typically say, “I got more than I gave.”
     If a teacher does something well that s/he typically cannot do, and doesn’t fully understand the underlying principles for its success, there is only one explanation for that teacher’s success: it is a miracle. If a teacher knows about something but  typically cannot do it, it is called theory. We want teachers who can do, not cannot do.

     Some teachers can teach very well, yet when asked why they do what they do, or even to describe what they do, they may say, “I don’t know. I just do it. I’ve been teaching for twenty-five years, and I just do it.”  That looks like magic, and it is not instructive to a novice teacher trying to become more proficient. However, when veteran teachers can do things and can describe how they know to do what they do, they are being intentional about their practice. Intentionality is the key to mentoring. As mentors describe and model their intentionality, they often learn more about their own practice. This is the reason so many mentors report about their own growth and rejuvenation during and after their experience of mentoring.

Helping novice teachers become intentional about their practice is the key contribution of mentors.












Sources:  Adapted from Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development. Mentor Teacher: A Leader’s Guide to Mentor Training by Judith Warren Little and Linda Nelson, eds. ©1990









Is induction and mentoring common throughout the country?

The need for effective induction programs was recognized by many educators in the 1980s, well before most states considered mandating mentoring as part of licensure/certification. As of 2002, 23 states reported having mentoring programs for new teachers, and two additional states were working on doing so. One half of those states mandated mentoring programs, and one quarter of them had a consequence for failure to successfully complete the program (State Departments of Education, CCSSO Policies and Practices Survey, 2002).

What decisions should a school district or state make in developing and implementing a mentoring program?

There are major considerations when planning and/or enhancing a mentoring program. Planning committees should discuss and answer the following questions.

  • Duration of Program?

Is this a one, two, or three-year program? A multi-year program is optimal because it addresses the developmental needs of the new teachers. The first year may focus on orientation to the system, understanding of school and district culture, and familiarization with curriculum. The second and possibly third year may build on the content coaching that is begun in the first year and continue to strengthen teaching skills and knowledge of pedagogy. Cultural proficiency, which is an ability to be sensitive to and knowledgeable of the diversity of the students and their families and the ways that cultural identities impact learning, may be addressed more deeply as new teachers are more familiar with school culture and curriculum.

  • Teachers Served?

Is this a program only for novice teachers who are new to the profession, or does it also include teachers who may be experienced and who are new to the school/district?  What about teachers teaching a different grade level or subject? If experienced teachers are included in the program, some program differentiation will be useful. While experienced teachers may not need much coaching about classroom management, for example, teachers can always benefit from reflecting on their practice and student achievement.

  • Evaluative or Non-Evaluative?

Will mentors evaluate new teachers, or is their role non-evaluative? Most mentoring programs are non-evaluative, in which mentors are non-judgmental colleagues who help promote new teachers’ reflection on their own practice. There are some peer assistance and review models that include an agreement between the teachers’ union and the administration to share the evaluation role. While this is not typical, it is a choice for the district to make when designing a mentoring program.

  • Full-time or Part-time Mentors?

Are mentors classroom teachers who take on the additional responsibility of mentoring, or are mentors released from some or all classroom teaching responsibilities? Typically, mentors are full-time teachers who also mentor a colleague. Some districts have created half or full-time positions for mentoring, which are filled by teachers whose teaching responsibilities are decreased or eliminated while they are mentors. There are advantages to both, so consideration of philosophy and cost are crucial in making the decision.

  • Remuneration for Mentors?

Are mentors compensated? Mentoring is a big commitment of time, energy and support for a colleague. Often, mentor remuneration is part of the negotiated teachers’ contract. There are many ways to remunerate mentors, including salaries for full or part-time mentors, stipends for full-time teachers who are mentors, additional released time for professional development, money to attend conferences, reduction of non-classroom duties, and additional personal leave.

  • Cost of Program?

What would it cost to have a mentoring program that we believe will support our new teachers? The cost of programs ranges from virtually nothing to large amounts of capital and human resources. Optimally, programs should have adequate resources for the services they provide to new teachers. Whether this is possible depends on funding. Program costs may include: mentor remuneration; professional development (including training, materials, and conference costs); and substitutes to cover classrooms so mentors and new teachers may meet and observe each other.

  • Funding?

How can mentoring programs be funded? There are many different ways that programs are funded. Optimally, programs are a line item in the school district budget, and in this way are more likely to continue each year. Programs have also been funded through federal or state grants (often as part of a teacher quality allocation) and/or funding from local education foundations in specific towns/cities. There are some creative ways that programs are funded, and these are included in the chart entitled “Selected Models of Mentoring/Induction.”

What steps should a school district or state take in developing and implementing a mentoring program?

        There are many things to consider when designing a mentoring program. Each of the following six steps is important and need careful consideration and planning.

1.   Involve key shareholders. 

Involving key shareholders ensures a greater likelihood of success, and a well conceived program. Key shareholders include new teachers, mentor teachers, as well as building and central office administrators. In addition, it can be useful to include teachers’ association leadership and the members of the school board, since aspects of the mentor program will have contractual and budgetary implications. Sometimes, there are ways to secure funding for the initial stages of the program, perhaps through grants from the state education agency or local foundations. Ultimately, if not from the outset, mentoring programs need to be part of the school system budget, so it is wise to have everyone at the table to discuss the ramifications of building strong professional development for all teachers, and specifically for new teachers as they join the profession and the school system.

2.   Articulate and communicate the selection criteria and selection process for mentor teachers.

Articulating selection criteria and selection process for mentor teachers is very important if the best mentors are to be chosen. Since mentors should be remunerated in some way, the stipend or other financial incentives could make becoming a mentor attractive to some teachers who might not have the background, skills and/or disposition to be good collegial coaches. Sometimes, administrators have used mentor selection and the financial incentives for mentors as rewards for teachers who have done other things for the school. By establishing selection criteria and a process for selection, several things are achieved:

  • the school community gets a clear message that this program seeks mentors with the greatest potential and capability to support new teachers;

  •  the experience, skills, and disposition that are sought are clear; and

  • there are appropriate and fair guidelines for selection.

In so doing, the group designing the mentoring program, and the administrators, are guided and potentially protected from criticism about their selection decisions. Clarity and consistency of standards for choosing mentors, as well as a clear selection process that is known in advance by the entire school community, will ensure that mentor selection decisions are done fairly and with the best interests of the program and the new teachers in mind.

3.   Match mentors and new teachers.

Matching mentors and new teachers well can make the difference between a meaningful and fruitful relationship and one that is perfunctory. Action research indicates that there are two factors that contribute most strongly to productive matches: proximity and same grade/level or subject area. When mentors and new teachers are in the same building, and even teach in classrooms that are nearby, they are much more likely to meet frequently, in addition to the regularly scheduled weekly meetings that are recommended. When mentors and new teachers teach the same grade level or subject, mentors are clearly in a better position to share their knowledge of curriculum and instruction with new teachers and help them plan and reflect on their own practice. Special educators can be the most difficult to match because they are often the only person in their school who does that job. In this case, one effective resolution is to have two mentors share the responsibility. One mentor is in the same building and can share cultural norms of the building and community and help with daily, logistical issues. The other mentor would be a job-alike special educator in another building who could be more helpful to the new teacher regarding IEPs, testing, school-system policies and practices regarding special education, and the additional challenges that special educators face. 


4.   Provide training and support.        

      Providing training and support to mentors is the biggest predictor of whether they will be cognitive coaches who promote the reflection and learning of the new teachers, or simply well intentioned and caring buddies. Mentors need to learn how to coach adult learners, and they need time to practice and receive feedback on their own development as coaches. Mentors need preliminary training before becoming mentors, ongoing professional development and coaching, and support for the important and sometimes difficult work of being a mentor. (See Appendix 4-2 for suggested topics and timelines for mentor training.)

     Many mentors have found that a coaching self-assessment and rubric of coaching have been very instructive in considering their practice as coaches. These tools are invaluable as teachers become mentors and think about their ability to promote the reflection of new teachers and strive to improve their own practice.

A rubric of essential coaching skills and a coaching self-assessment survey are in the appendices. They may be used in a variety of ways. Mentors may use the survey to identify their strengths and challenges as coaches. This will inform their interest in professional development, as well as possibly motivate them to enhance their coaching repertoire and skills. Mentors may also share the results of their surveys with mentor program planners to assist them in planning appropriate and necessary professional development for mentors. The rubric of essential coaching skills includes levels of performance that are observable and objectively stated. New and experienced mentors will see the breadth and depth of the role. Experienced mentors may realize that there is even more that they may be doing to promote the reflection and practice of new colleagues. As such, the rubric helps inform mentors’ thinking about coaching, and helps them set realistic goals for professional development. After identifying areas for improvement or enhancement, mentors and program planners are in a much better position to seek or provide the needed resources to strengthen themselves and the programs.

There are many resources available to guide in the training of mentors. Mentoring: A Resource and Training Guide for Educators, 2nd Edition (Dunne and Villani, forthcoming in 2004) is recommended, among others, because it contains a wealth of concrete, research-based ideas about mentoring, including professional development designs for different audiences, directions for activities trainers and facilitators may use to train mentors, appropriate handouts for training, and PowerPoint presentations for these training designs and experiences. The list of references for this section includes additional resources.

5.   Create supporting policies and procedures. 

Creating the policies and procedures for the mentoring program in advance will promote effective communication and also prevent a number of questions and concerns from arising. For example, an exit strategy needs to be created for the infrequent times when a new teacher-mentor match doesn’t work out. This is important because new teachers and mentors are often reluctant to tell their supervisor that a match is not working. The new teachers assume that mentors are highly regarded and, therefore, might be reluctant to tell an administrator anything less than appreciative comments about the mentors. Mentors may not want to prejudice an evaluator about new teachers by reporting problems with the mentoring process. When there are designated people without supervisory responsibilities whom mentors and new teachers may approach in confidence, participants know that there will be help for them without fear that it will reflect poorly on them or their partners.

6.   Conduct an evaluation.  

Conducting an evaluation of the program is essential for assessing its strengths and challenges. Evaluation is something that is sometimes skipped because of a lack of funds. It is critical that there be some evaluation, even if it is not as detailed as might be optimal. New teachers, mentors, other teachers and administrators need to know that their reflections on their experiences in the mentoring program, both positive and negative, are sought and their concerns and suggestions will be considered as the program that has been piloted is improved. A rubric for assessing mentoring programs, such as the one that follows, can offer insights into ways to maximize the benefits and effectiveness of a mentoring program and can help teachers and administrators have a clearer vision of excellence.

What would an effective mentor program look like?

        The following rubric offers performance indicators of success for mentoring programs and can be helpful as a guide for successful implementation.

Good teachers are not automatically good mentors.
Developing Effective Mentor Programs


Criteria for Success









Involvement of Key Shareholders

Mentor program is designed and planned by a few individuals. Could be “top down” or “bottom up.”

Teachers and administrators work together to design the mentor program.

Teachers and administrators representing all grade levels, school committee members, parents and students are involved in designing and planning the mentor program.

Teachers and administrators representing all grade levels, school committee members, parents, and students are involved in designing and planning the mentor program.


There is a multi-representative design team that continually assesses the program, identifies what’s working and not working, and makes changes along the way.

Selection Criteria and Process for Mentor Teachers

No criteria exist. Building principals “hand pick” mentor teachers.

Mentors volunteer and are selected by a mentor program committee. No criteria exists.

Criteria for selecting mentor teachers are identified.

A mentor program committee selects mentors with input from the building principal.

Criteria for selecting mentor teachers are identified.

A mentor program committee selects mentors with input from the building principal.

Potential mentors complete an application including recommendations from colleagues.



Criteria for Success









Mentor and New Teacher Matches

Mentors and new teachers are matched without consideration of grade level, content area, or geographic location.

Mentors and new teachers are matched (to the degree possible) according to grade level and content area.

Mentors and new teachers are matched (to the degree possible) according to grade level and content area.

Building principals contribute to the matching process by considering the compatibility of individual styles of the mentors and new teachers.

Mentors and new teachers are matched (to the degree possible) according to grade level and content area.

Building principals contribute to the matching process by considering the compatibility of individual styles of the mentors and new teachers.

A procedure exists that, in the event matches do not work, both parties are “held harmless,” and a new match is made.

Training and Support

Training consists of disseminating and “walking through” the new teacher handbook.

An orientation session is held for mentors outlining roles and responsibilities.

An orientation session is held for mentors and new teachers outlining roles and responsibilities.

Three to four days of mentor training is provided to all mentor teachers. Training includes qualities of effective mentors, needs of new teachers, active listening and questioning skills, cognitive coaching, and data collection techniques.

An orientation session is held for mentors and new teachers outlining roles and responsibilities.

Three to four days of mentor training is provided to all mentor teachers. Training includes qualities of effective mentors, needs of new teachers, active listening and questioning skills, cognitive coaching, and data collection techniques.

Mentor and new teacher pairs are provided with on-site coaching and support throughout the year.




Criteria for Success









Supporting Policies and Procedures

There are no policies in place to support the mentor program. However, the district has decided to implement a mentor program of some sort.

A set of guidelines is developed to support the mentor program.

Incentives are provided for mentor teachers.

Training dates are set.

Mentors and new teachers have to “catch as catch can” regarding finding time to meet.

A set of guidelines is developed to support the mentor program.

Incentives are provided for mentor teachers.

Structures are in place to provide mentors and new teachers with time during the school day to meet and visit each other’s classroom.

A set of guidelines is developed to support the mentor program.

Incentives are provided for mentor teachers.

Structures are in place to provide mentors and new teachers with time during the school day to meet and visit each other’s classroom.

The school schedule provides regular professional development time during the school day for all teachers allowing new teachers to link with and learn from other colleagues.



Criteria for Success









Mentor Program Evaluation

There is no evaluation of the mentor program.

Evaluation of the mentor program focuses only on participant satisfaction and enjoyment.

The impact of mentor training on supporting mentors to successfully fill their roles is assessed.

A survey of new teachers’ needs is conducted and used to evaluate how well the mentor program serves those needs.

The impact of mentor training on supporting mentors to successfully fill their roles is assessed.

A survey of new teachers’ needs is conducted and used to evaluate how well the mentor program serves those needs.

Mentor teachers conduct self-assessment around their performance as a mentor teacher.

New teachers conduct self-assessment of their teaching against clearly defined teaching competencies.

A rubric identifying criteria for success of a mentor program is developed and used to assess the efficacy of the mentor program.


Dunne, K. & Villani, S. (forthcoming 2004). Mentoring: A resource & training guide for educators. Woburn, MA:  Learning Innovations at WestEd.
Special education professionals have many of the same needs as regular educators, and they also have additional challenges that are discussed throughout this document. Some of the areas requiring specific consideration are: matching special educators with appropriate mentors, special education funding, special education laws and local protocols for meeting the requirements, parents/family education, and co-teaching to fully include youngsters in classrooms in their neighborhood schools. Although districts may not have designated retention programs for special educators, more of them are realizing that it is crucial to consider the unique needs of special educators, in addition to those shared with all new educators. Some districts have special sessions for special educators, in addition to those scheduled for the majority of new teachers.
What are some different approaches in mentoring programs throughout the United States?

When creating or revising a mentoring/induction program, teachers and administrators often ask, “What is out there?” A summary of different types of programs is contained in the following chart that compares the programs in terms of such components as funding, duration of program, population served and whether the mentors are full-time teachers/specialist, full-time mentors, or a combination thereof.


Selected Models of Mentoring/Induction




Student Population

Unique Feature of Program

Duration of Program


Full-time/ Part-time

Contact Information


Aurora, CO

K-12:  28,313 and some post-secondary

Continuum of skills correlated with each state standard; District resource teachers support mentors

1 year

District and grants

Full-time teachers

Linda Damon, Director of Staff Development

303-344-8060 228364



BTSA, Pajaro Valley, CA

K-12: 19,400

Full-time release for advisors; Statewide program development and implementation

2 years

State and district

Full-time mentors

Ellen Moir, Exec., Dir. New Teacher Center, UCSC



Dover-Sherborn, MA



Teacher leaders coordinate the program and do most of the training

1 year

State grant and local education fund

Full-time teachers

Martin Moran, Teacher Leader



Glendale Union HS, AZ

9-12: 13,683

3-year program of support for new teachers in regional high school district

3 years


Part-time teachers

Vernon Jacobs, Assoc. Sup’t.

623-435-6000 x 6002


Lee County, NC

K-12: 8,100

Taught by classroom teachers, for classroom teachers

3 years

State and local

Full-time teachers/Full-time mentors

Lou Coggins, Director

919-776-7541 x313


Newport News, VA

PreK-12: 33,000

PATHWISE Induction model

1 year, possibly 2 years

Local and state

Full-time teachers

Kathleen Pietrasanta, Dir. Of Instructional Mentoring



Rochester, NY

PreK – Adult Ed: 38,000


Peer assistance and review

1 year, possibly longer

District, state and grants

Part-time teachers

Carl O’Connell, Mentor Program Coordinator



Saint Paul, MN

K-12: 46,000

Learning Circles- Small groups of teachers meet monthly with resource colleague to discuss issues of their choosing

3 years

District, grant and union

Full-time teachers

Maria Lamb, Director of Instructional Services



STEP, Montana

K-12: 159,988 in the state

Telecommunications is used for mentoring beginning mathematics, science, and elementary teachers in this large, rural state

2 years, possibly longer

National Science Foundation Grant and state

Full-time teachers

Elizabeth Swanson, STEP Project PI




University of New Mexico, NM

K-12: 86,114

No new budgetary expenditures - in collaboration with the University

1 year


Full-time mentors

Jean Casey, Sec. Program Coordinator



Vicksburg, MI

K-12: 2,780

Creative funding of instructional specialists; 3 years of coaching and coursework

3 years

District, creatively

Full-time teachers/Full-time mentors

Pat Wilson O’Leary, Instructional Spec.



Villani, Susan. (2002). Mentoring Programs for New Teachers: Models of Induction and Support. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

What are the implications for districts and/or states?

     Establishing or revising an induction program requires careful consideration and discussion of participants’ needs, funding, role responsibilities, and ongoing professional development for mentors as well as new teachers.

     There are many roles for supporting new teachers within the school community. New teachers will be significantly better prepared if they have the wisdom and encouragement of all members of the profession. Parents and families are also members of the school community. Sometimes, new teachers experience additional challenges from skeptical parents/families who are concerned that their newness to the profession may be a disadvantage for their children. When the entire community knows that there is an effective induction and mentoring program for new teachers, families may feel less concerned because they know that the new teachers have the guidance, support, and resources they need to be successful. The Hopkinton Public Schools, Hopkinton, MA, has delineated the awareness and responsibilities for different role groups, and this example is included in Appendix 4-6 as the work of an individual school district in developing its own program.


Mentoring programs are an essential part of the induction of new teachers and also have significant benefits for the mentors of the new teachers. There are many examples of entire school cultures becoming more collaborative as a result of mentoring programs (Villani, 2002). The collaborations between and among school districts, institutions of higher education, departments of education and educational collectives that can be developed or strengthened are limitless. These efforts require sharing knowledge, skills, resources and strategies, as well as a deep commitment to work together to help new teachers. It was shocking when the education profession first realized and acknowledged that 30-50% of new teachers were leaving in their first five years of employment (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1997). Special educators, bilingual educators and teachers in urban and sometimes rural settings often leave their positions more frequently. This has been known for a long time, yet mentor programs, which can make a difference, are neither as numerous nor as comprehensive as they need to be to support new teachers.

        The following appendices include resources that will further assist school districts and schools in developing a framework for teacher retention that includes induction and mentoring programs.

Appendix 4-1 is a continuum that displays levels of cultural competence.

Appendix 4-2 offers suggested topics as well as a school calendar-year timeline for mentor training and ongoing support.

 Appendix 4-3 provides a model four-day agenda for mentor training.

Appendix 4-4 uses a Likert-type scale, and this self-assessment survey is a discrepancy analysis tool assessing current knowledge and use of specific coaching skills and information.

Appendix 4-5 examines, by way of a rubric, the essential coaching skills used in mentoring new teachers.

Appendix 4-6 provides an example of how Hopkinton, MA Public Schools had delineated the awareness and responsibilities for each role group in the school district responsible for a part of the mentoring program.

Appendix 4-7 provides twenty steps that can be used for planning and implementing a successful mentoring program.



Austin, L., Odell, S.J., Ishler, P., Kay, R.S., & Edefelt, R.A. (1989). Assisting the beginning
(pp.9). Reston, VA: Association of Teacher Educators.

Consortium for Policy Research in Education. University of PA. (1996). “State mandated and funded new teacher formal induction or mentoring.”

Darling-Hammond, L. (1999). Solving the dilemmas of teacher supply, demand, and standards: How can we ensure a competent, caring and qualified teacher for every child? New York: National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future.

Darling-Hammond, L. and Sykes, G. (Eds). (1999). Teaching as the learning profession:  Handbook of policy and practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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The difference a mentoring program can make in school districts throughout the United States is significant.

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